(Mayflower, London, 1977)
The blurb on the back:
You can’t trust your mother … your best friend … the neighbour door. One minute they’re perfectly normal, the next – RABID.
The early films of David Cronenberg were fine pieces of work: good solid horror, shot through with intelligence and creativity. Rabid was perhaps not the best of them, but it was nicely atmospheric in an art-house gross-out kind of way.
The story is pretty straightforward once you get past the set-up: a girl who’s been seriously injured in a motorbike accident has some radical, experimental surgery performed upon her and becomes infected with a highly contagious plague akin to rabies. Thereafter she becomes a blood-sucking monster, all hell breaks out, and maniacs are unleashed upon society from all directions. What makes it particularly fun is the idea that the procedure she undergoes is performed by a cosmetic surgeon, adapting skin-grafting techniques to reconstructing her small intestine – in the scientist-goes-too-far stakes, this is an unlikely entrant, a man who makes his living from flattering the vanity of the wealthy.
As with all Cronenberg’s pre-Dead Zone films, he wrote the screenplay himself, so he gets his name all over the cover, but it was Richard Lewis who got the somewhat unenviable job of transferring it to the page. It doesn’t really work, since there’s way too much action to be described, but it’s not a complete disaster.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 3/5